Paid parking backlash

TRADERS dotted around Vincent’s town centres fear the end of the free first hour in council carparks could also end their businesses.

The council this week voted to charge $1 for the first hour of parking to raise enough funds for this year’s budget without having to tax ratepayers even more than this year’s 7.6 per cent rate increase.

Andrew Parissis from Siena’s restaurant in Leederville said it could be the death knell for retail in the town centre.

“Truth be told, paid parking will not affect our business, especially during the day because we’re not open during the day—because no one is around.

“And why is no one around? Because the retail in Leederville is dying, and if the retail continues to die in Leederville we’ll be left with a night-time precinct only.

Death knell

“That’s why I feel that we should be encouraging people to come to Leederville, and if that means giving them an hour free parking, then we give them an hour free parking… give them some incentive to come to Leederville.”

Wayne Crofts is CEO of the IGA Good Grocer in Leederville, and said “any barrier to admission to attend a supermarket… will absolutely impact the customer’s mindset as to whether or not they will attend that store. So a barrier of having all parking bays paid for… would absolutely be a barrier and we would be significantly concerned with that.”

Mount Hawthorn business owner Greg Johnson said “I’m very, very concerned about this proposal. It is a complete misunderstanding of the ecosystem as to how important parking is to the success of all retail, both daytime retail and nighttime retail.

“The proposal to introduce paid parking… assumes an inelastic demand for paid parking,” he said, and it’ll incentivise people to instead head to shopping centres with free parking.

“I just request that you have a look at what happened to the City of Perth: It’s wrecked, the foot traffic is wrecked by a crazy system of parking. Subiaco’s gone in the same direction. Why would you want to emulate a failed model? 

“Both those cities are now trying to get those pedestrians back on the street by offering free parking and other incentives. Here in Vincent in the midst of all of this we’re going against that.”

A lone voice in favour of paid parking was Leederville urban planner Anna Kelderman. She said paid parking should be brought in to encourage people to use public transport instead, and pointed out that ‘free’ parking actually just ended up being paid for by ratepayers.

“As a ratepayer I want the public carparks to do more heavy lifting in obtaining funds,” she says.

“The land is not free, and if it’s not earning money for the city which befits its land value, then we as ratepayers are subsidising the choice of others to drive, many of whom are not city ratepayers.”

Ms Kellerman said “a lunch or dinner on the strip of Leederville is all the poorer for the never-ending traffic nose and smell and the lack of safety.

“We can only imagine a future without that for our centre if we reduce vehicle movement.”

Three councillors — Ron Alexander, Ross Ioppolo and Suzanne Worner — wanted to keep free parking but were outvoted.

Cr Ioppolo referred to “a neuromarketing and behavioural principle known as ‘the power of free’,” saying research had found even a one cent fee could be a deterrent and introducing paid parking “could have catastrophic effects.”Cr Alexander pointed out “the action is opposite 

to what some other local governments are considering in the light of the fight with the competition — which is largely big shopping centres that offer free parking… in 2022 the City of Perth introduced free night time parking in city bays after 6pm, as well as extending one hour free parking in select areas of West Perth because they were trying to rejuvenate those areas.”

Cr Worner suggested that instead of getting rid of the free hour they could instead increase rates for all-day parkers, typically city commuters who leave their car in Vincent and head off to work.

But most councillors went with scrapping the free hour.

Vincent mayor Emma Cole said a test run removing free parking at Barlee Street hadn’t resulted in negative impacts. 

“And if there are catastrophic impacts,” Ms Cole said, “…if we do get it wrong, we can reverse it.”

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